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Amtrak RR French Toast Quality Declining

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dlagrua

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This may be of interest to LD train travelers but after a recent breakfast on the CL, it appears that one of the menu favorites is history.

In past years I have always enjoyed the railroad French Toast for breakfast because of its crisp texture and fresh tasty quality. On a recent trip I ordered it, expecting what I had known as one of the best French toast recipes around. The serving was disappointing. It was a soggy tasteless menu choice and reminded me of frozen microwaved French Toast.

While the dinner was still acceptable, the breakfast stunk. Anyone else notice the declining quality of the Railroad French Toast? I just theorize; its all about the money!
 

Notelvis

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I've noticed the increasing ABSENCE of the French Toast as a breakfast menu item.

It has not been on the menu on three of my last four overnight train trips. Going back to March 2012 I have not seen the French Toast on the northbound Crescent, the westbound California Zephyr, or..... just last week.... the northbound Silver Meteor.
 
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Shortline

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I think it just varries. I may be wrong, but I assume its packages pre made French toast and is just reheated. Some cooks seem to grill it, which seems to work, other seem to Either not grill it long enough, or something. Had it one way on the crescent and it was great. The next day going North, it was horrible. Go figure.
 

FriskyFL

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I too have noticed the decline. I had the RRFT a few weeks back on the Silver Star, I too was a bit underwhelmed. A bit tough and chewy. On the return trip I went with the scrambled eggs, thank goodness they weren't tough and chewy.
 

the_traveler

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The reason the French Toast reminds you of the pre-packaged kind is that it is now pre-packaged!

In the "old days on Amtrak", they used to prepare the French Toast from scratch right on board. Lately they started offering pancakes on most routes. On the few that still offer it, the French Toast is pre-prepared and packaged to be reheated.

I know what you mean. The French Toast used to be my favorite item (along with the real flat iron steaks)!
 

henryj

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Dec 19, 2008
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I agree with you. My last train trip in December I was also disappointed in the RR French Toast. Just as you describe....soggy and tastless. I ordered it on the Eagle, but the rest of the trip I ordered something else for breakfast after that experience.
 

grounded flyboy

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southern Illinois
Long distance trains pulling a Cafe Car have a secret... no flat grill. So, when ordering RR French Toast in a Cafe Car the routine is probably (I've never watched this operation) to carefully remove the pre-made product from the cellophane wrapper, slip it into the convection oven, and meticulously set the time to produce a piping hot, yet mushy slice of French Toast. If you are on a train with a full dining car, they still have a grill so the product can be warmed on the flat grill and resemble the toast you so fondly remember. If we could get them to warm the syrup...eureka !!

There is also a thread going right now about $2-3-4 tipping. If you are one of those silly people that tips for a combination of quality food as well as service. Let it be known what you think of the quality of the French Toast. Money talks and the word gets 'upstairs' quickly. While your at it, try the 'new' cheese cake and let your thoughts be known about that.
 

greatcats

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Flagstaff, Arizona
I had the French Toast recently on #3, and while I have had better, it was pretty tasty. I was disappointed with the crab cakes eastbound, which I have enjoyed on other trains.
 

SP&S

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I didn't try the french toast on the LSL last week but the crabcake special was pretty good. A dining companion from the eastern seaboard commented that while they weren't Maryland they were pretty good.

RRFT is missing in action on the westbound Builder but the pancakes were good. Either they were made fresh or a genius was reheating them. Now about the watery chicken-apple-maple sausage.......
 

ALC Rail Writer

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If you thought Amtrak was using one of the greatest French toast "recipes" around I suggest you try a few more cookbooks. I mean it's better than a McDonalds breakfast, on good days puts Dennys to shame... but it's hardly good cuisine.

In case you haven't noticed the prepared foods industry as a whole is suffering from high prices, driven mainly by fuel costs, meaning they're cutting corners and raising prices. I can't remember the last time I had a passable meal in a fast food joint or in a god-awful chain restaurant. The food Amtrak gets is on par with what a state college dining hall might serve, considering it likely came from the same Aramark distribution center.
 

Notelvis

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Long distance trains pulling a Cafe Car have a secret... no flat grill. So, when ordering RR French Toast in a Cafe Car the routine is probably (I've never watched this operation) to carefully remove the pre-made product from the cellophane wrapper, slip it into the convection oven, and meticulously set the time to produce a piping hot, yet mushy slice of French Toast. If you are on a train with a full dining car, they still have a grill so the product can be warmed on the flat grill and resemble the toast you so fondly remember. If we could get them to warm the syrup...eureka !!
There is also a thread going right now about $2-3-4 tipping. If you are one of those silly people that tips for a combination of quality food as well as service. Let it be known what you think of the quality of the French Toast. Money talks and the word gets 'upstairs' quickly. While your at it, try the 'new' cheese cake and let your thoughts be known about that.
Had the new cheese cake last weekend on the Silver Meteor. It's round - about the size of an extra thick hockey puck - and seems to be more 'crusty' than before. I'll likely have something different on my next train ride.
 

Rob_C

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May 28, 2008
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The cheesecake sounds good actually. I like more crust than cream cheese anyway. Not a savory fan anyway. I'm a carbivore!

As to the french toast, the way people are describing it is the way it has been every time I've had it for the last 8 years! Horrible. Amtrak's breakfast has always been very weak, very dried out in general, and about on par with so-so fast food breakfasts. *shrug* Anyone know if the omlettes are made fresh or also re-heated from frozen? That's there problem right there. Get another cook down there and start making stuff semi-fresh again for breakfast!
 

Bob Dylan

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I first had Rail Road French Toast Back in the Day on the Sunset Ltd. and then the Super Chief and it was Absolutely Delicious and Filling! (This was when you had to pay for your Meals in the Diner even when in a Sleeper) I dont care for the Frozen Stuff they serve Now but as has been said the Chef can make a Difference if he Does it up Correctly on the Grill!

Ive found the Eggs and the Omelets on Amtrak to be Excellent except in the Diner Lite on the Cardinal and Generally think that Breakfast is the Best Meal for the Money Served in Amtrak Diners! YMMV
 
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OlympianHiawatha

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Prior to Amtrak most railroads took great pride in their French Toast and 5 Recipes are featured in the great book Dining By Rail by James D. Porterfield. He gives the recipes for Northern Pacific, Soo Line, ATSF, Pennsylvania and Union Pacific French Toast. According to his notes the ATSF Recipe which dates back to the 1918 Fred Harvey Chefs was by far the best.
 

Acela150

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Prior to Amtrak most railroads took great pride in their French Toast and 5 Recipes are featured in the great book Dining By Rail by James D. Porterfield. He gives the recipes for Northern Pacific, Soo Line, ATSF, Pennsylvania and Union Pacific French Toast. According to his notes the ATSF Recipe which dates back to the 1918 Fred Harvey Chefs was by far the best.
I have that book. I actually met him during Railfest 2002. My Dad and I took the trip from HAR to ALT onto PGH and back. On the trek from ALT to PGH he talked over the book and had some servings for us to taste. I really don't remember the food but he gave quite the plug for that book.

I had Pancakes on 29 and French Toast on 50 in February. They were both terrible. The pancakes were solid as a rock and the French Toast had Zero flavor. Even the Kraft Syrup didn't do anything for the taste.
 
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pennyk

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The continental breakfast (at least on the Silvers) now offers steel cut oatmeal and Greek yogurt for those of us that are looking for a somewhat healthier option. :)
 

benjibear

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For frozen french toast, it is all in the way it is prepared. I buy it all the time and have found the best (and fastest) way to prepare it is to microwave it at about 3/4 of what the box says. Then put it in the toaster for one toast cycle and tada, it is almost as good as homemade.

I can see Amtrak not wanting to make it from scratch. Are the pancakes fried on board?
 

Ispolkom

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The continental breakfast (at least on the Silvers) now offers steel cut oatmeal and Greek yogurt for those of us that are looking for a somewhat healthier option. :)
I am consistently impressed by the oatmeal in Amtrak diners (being impressed by oatmeal surely makes me an old curmugeon). I always assumed that eventually I'd be confronted with wallpaper paste, aka instant oatmeal, but instead it's always slow-cooked old fashioned oats. It's been my default breakfast for years, though I'll admit that the crab cake with hollandaise sauce is hard to resist.
 

the_traveler

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The continental breakfast (at least on the Silvers) now offers steel cut oatmeal and Greek yogurt for those of us that are looking for a somewhat healthier option. :)
Healthy food actually chosen to eat? Say it ain't so!
makes me an old curmudgeon
You said it yourself Jim! Who am I to disagree?
 
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TVRM610

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Chattanooga TN
Prior to Amtrak most railroads took great pride in their French Toast and 5 Recipes are featured in the great book Dining By Rail by James D. Porterfield. He gives the recipes for Northern Pacific, Soo Line, ATSF, Pennsylvania and Union Pacific French Toast. According to his notes the ATSF Recipe which dates back to the 1918 Fred Harvey Chefs was by far the best.
I have that book too.. I THINK years ago I made the French Toast to the ATSF recipe and it was pretty good even when cooked by me! ha. In a perfect world.. Amtrak could advertise the different styles of french toast served on different routes. Southern Railway style on the Crescent, ATSF style on the Chief, Great Northern on the Builder etc. etc. I know... keep dreaming. ha.

On a totally different note... Food Network chef Alton Brown has mentioned how much he loves trains... what if someone like him and Food network could sponsor the Amtrak dining cars? Sort of advertising for both of them.. Amtrak could advertise fancier service... Food Network could advertise a truly unique experience... and they could even make a tv show with the various famous chefs from Food Network figuring out what recipes could actually work on a train. It's not the worst idea! Ok... seriously... back to reality now. haha.
 
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